tv [untitled] April 15, 2012 12:00am-12:30am EDT
as commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the civil war continues, join us every saturday at 6 and 10 p.m. and sundays at 11 a.m. for programs featuring the civil war. for more information including our complete schedule, go to cspan.org/history. to keep us with us during the week or send us questions and comments follow us on twitter at twitter.com/cspanhistory. each week american history tv sits in on a lecture with one of the nation's college professors. you can watch the classes here every saturday at 8 p.m. and midnight eastern and sundays at 1 p.m. this week donald rumsfeld talks about his early years in government as a member of the
nixon and ford administrations and the war on terrorism from his time as defense secretary for president george w. bush. mr. rumsfeld is a guest lecturer at the citadel military college in charleston, south carolina, in a course called the conservative intellectual tradition in america tout by professor mallory factor. >> well, mallory, thank you so much for your kind words and thanks to the citadel for the invitation and the hospitality and wonderful tour that i had today. it is an impressive institution. general, it is good to see you again, having served on the joint staff when i was there and with distinction. it is a fine service to have this class on the conservative intellectual tradition in america. i am delighted to participate in
the program with so many friends and associates of mine over many decades. i turn 80 in a couple of months, and i am told that if you multiply that by three and subtract it from 2012, it takes right back to the beginning of the country which suggests that i have lived one third of the history of america. that suggests that i have probably also lived roughly one third of the conservative intellectual tradition in america. now, that either means that we have a very young country or i am very old. or both. as mallory said, i spent four years writing my memoir, and part of that time was taking a large 80-year long archive and digitizing a good portion of it,
and we established a website to support the book, and therefore if you go into the book and read a paragraph, you can actually go to the end note and pull up the entire memo that paragraph came out of, and i am told it is probably the first political memoir of the information age. back in the old days you couldn't do all that. it just wasn't possible. today it is. you have had some very fine talent, conservatives, here. al, michael marone, ed nease, doug feith and others. i wish i could have been here to hear their comments and presentations. i think the unfortunate thing is that had this class been held not too many years ago, you would have had the benefit of hearing from some of the giants like dr. milton friedman and bill buckley and other friends
of mine that i worked with over the years. in fact, it was milton friedman who met with me in chicago at a conference and we talked about the concept of the all volunteer army in the 1960s, and he urged me, i was a young congressman, and he urged me to put in legislation that could move from a conscript system to an all volunteer military. and there were very strong arguments against it. people said that would be a mercenary military and of course what was happening in those days is we did have a draft system and people were told they had to serve. it was only a faction of the people. women did not serve, did not have to serve. teachers did not have to serve.
students did not have to serve. conscientious objectors did not have to serve, and it was just a segment of the society that was told that they were going to be the ones to serve and, by the way, the government was going to pay them about 50, 60, 70% of the what the civilian manpower market was and milton friedman found that offensive, and i did in fact put in legislation and testify before the house and senate armed services committee on the legislation and eventually thanks to president richard nixon it became law and the united states shifted to a different system which is really been a great benefit to our country. there is no question but that
the armed forces today, the men and women, every single person is there because they want to be there. they raised their hands and said send me, and god blessed them for it. it was that concept of milton friedman's that he pushed and pushed early on. of course the flip side of that is that i also was involved in something that was quite apart from a conservative tradition. richard nixon went up to camp david back in 1970, i guess, and when he came back down, he had decided to impose wage price controls on america and i remember george schultz came to me and said i want to run the controls for the united states of america and george said i don't believe in them and he said i know, don, that's why we want to you do it because it is such a bad idea. sure enough, they were imposed, and what we did was try to manage them so they didn't distort our economy so we wouldn't release a lot of the smaller companies, we had the larger companies report, and tried to manage them so that we did not disrupt the market system.
one day i got a call from my friend milton friedman, and i said, don, are you doing a terrible job managing the wage price controls of the united states. i said you're wrong, i am doing a spectacular job. we're letting people out so we're not distorting the economy and we have no permanent employees. every person we hired was detailed over so we could move them out and didn't create a permanent bureaucracy and milton said, i know that's what you're doing, but he said the problem is you're doing such a good job that people are going to get the wrong message and begin to believe that wage price controls actually work, which you and i know they don't. and that was the other side of the conservative tradition. it is arguable, of course, that the modern political conservatism was launched by bill buckley and barry goldwater. there is no question but that it has done an enormous amount of good for people with president reagan at the helm we saw
conservatism brought down the soviet union in large measure and communism. it helped spread freedom to places like eastern europe. the free market policies have been a major cause for the stunning economic growth in our country, and other countries as well, like chile, south korea, japan to mention a few. i remember the first time i met bill buckley. i was called back as ambassador to nato to washington when gerald ford became president to chair his transition, and he had never been elected president or vice president. no one knew him around the world. i had been ambassador and had contacts in europe and he said, look, there is a conference going on in turkey and i want you to go there and explain to people who gerald ford is and what our policies are going to be that and dr. kissinger will be continuing as secretary of
state and be reassuring. and the name of the conference was just the opposite of the conservative tradition. supposedly it was the bilderberg conference, and i went there to izmir, turkey, walked, looked around, didn't see too many people i knew and looked in the back in the middle and there was bill buckley. i said, oh, my goodness, and i sat with him and he introduced me to a woman sitting next to him who i had never met, and we talked. it turned out the woman sitting next to him was a young, british parliamentarian who played a role in the conservative tradition.
name margaret thatcher. years later when president reagan asked me to become the special presidential envoy for the law of the sea he sent me to japan and germany and the netherlands and england and france to meet with the leadership to try to talk them out of supporting what was called the sea bed mining section of the law, the sea treaty, and one of the stops was in london, and i met on 10 downing street with mrs. thatcher, and i started explaining to her exactly what the provision of the treaty would do, and i said basically what it does is it creates an authority, quote, unquote, kind
of an orwellian term and it would be in charge of riches under the sea and president reagan wants me to persuade you that he will not sign the treaty because he doesn't think it is a good thing for the country or the world and she looked at me and said, mr. ambassador, that sounds to me like the international nationalization of two thirds of the earth's surface. you know what i think of nationalization. she had been dismantling the nationalized industries in england and was very supportive. in any event, i am very pleased to be here. this is a terrific institution. it is a symbol of service throughout many decades now, and i thank each of you for your patriotism and your dedication. first let me make a couple of comments about things i am not going to talk much about. the phrase, the first time i heard the phrase compassionate conservatism was a friend of mine named joe jacobs. he wrote a book entitled
"compassionate conservativism," and he was a conservative, and he was compassionate, and he described that concept. this was back, i suppose, in the late 1970s, and he was a businessman who cared about the country greatly. he kind of talked about softening the edges of traditional conservatism, the image that republicans might be indifferent to the plight of the poor, this they may not understand minorities and the importance of equality under the law and equal opportunity. he was a thoughtful person, and i know that this topic has been discussed before, so i will not belabor it. neoconservatism, my friend don feith spoke to that and i am sure many of you heard him. he is a thoughtful, knowledgeable person, and i read his remarks and found them most interesting and instructive.
that period of the reagan administration and the ford administration and the nixon administration, we had this pressure for talk with the soviet union, and it was a theory that there were ways to find accommodations with the soviet union and richard nixon and actually lyndon johnson began and richard nixon and gerald ford continued with secretary of state kissinger as the leader of that movement. the theory was not unrealistic. it was that you ought to be able to find some areas of accommodation and if you are steely eyed and careful, you ought not to compromise on something you shouldn't compromise on but by the same token, you might try to reach out and see if you can achieve a relaxation of tension, which the
word detante suggests. the problem with it was that the soviet union at the time was increasing its capabilities and was on an up trend. the united states was decreasing its capabilities on a relative basis and we were moving into a roughly a band of rough equivalents where they were superior in some areas, we were superior in some areas. i don't know any american military person that wanted to trade our military for theirs, but the trend lines were wrong. they were adverse to our interest without question, and there was a big debate in the united states about what they were spending as a percentage of their gdp on defense and conservatives and neo conservatives, people like senator scoop jackson and others stepped up and expressed concern
about detente as did i. my concern was a different one. it was clear to me we had to reverse the adverse trend. we had to invest in our military if we were going to have peace through strength and have the kinds of deterrent capability necessary for our country to be able to contribute to peace and stability in the world and the problem with detente was is it hull of the pictures of our presidents and the secretaries of the communist party toasting each other with champagne glasses for agreements that were not really terribly important in the last analysis. it left the impression that, well, the soviets really weren't bad. they were not bad. they were kind of okay because we could have meetings and we could have meals and clink our champagne glasses and the effect of that was to erode any interest in improving our definition capabilities, to erode our willingness to step up and put a higher percentage of our gdp into defense. when i came to washington out of the navy in 1957 eisenhower administration, we were spending 10% of our gross domestic
product on defense, same thing true in the kennedy administration, the johnson administration, and today i think we're spending about 4.5 or 4.6% of our gdp, so anyone would suggest that the debt that we're facing and the crushing deficits are a result of the pentagon or the defense department are simply not looking at the facts. it is all in entitlements because we actually as a share of gdp we are half of where we were in the 50s, 60s, and in that period. in any event, the work was put in and during the end of the ford administration and thanks to the later the reagan administration, the kinds of investment that were needed were actually achieved although the four years of the carter administration actually reduced defense capability during that period. a third thing i am not going to get into extensively and libertarianism. we all wish we could live in a world where we could all be libertarians and have a small federal government, but unfortunately that's not the kind of world we live in because the first responsibility of government is to provide for the security of the people, and we live in a world that's
dangerous. we live in a world where weakness is provocative. we live in a world where the idea of another country providing global leadership forces one to say, well, which country do we want to do that if not the united states? and that's tough to answer. you look around the world, and there are relatively few countries that think like we do, that have the same values, that have the same capabilities that we do, and so i think most conservatives agree on the need for smaller government, less taxes, less regulation, and separating private lives from government, but many of us disagree on the subject of foreign policy. i simply do not believe that the idea of some form of isolationism is a realistic thing in the world we live in today.
i was speaking at leavenworth the other day to i think 1,400 plus majors, and i suppose some lieutenant colonels, and they asked me what do you worry about when you go to bed at night? i remember i was asked that question by a senator from kansas when i was being confirmed for the pentagon back in 2001, and my answer was in effect intelligence. it is a complicated world. there are closed societies. there is a lot we don't know, and it is a dangerous world, and i worry about intelligence. i didn't answer that question that way at leavenworth the other day. i answered it differently. it goes right to this point of our country's, i believe, responsibility to contribute to peace and stability in the world. i answered by saying i worry about weakness on our part.
i worry about our withdrawal. i worry about our management of our economic affairs. no one thing specific. i could have said korea. i could have said iran. i could have said terrorism. i could have said any number of things but i said what i really worry about is a sense in the world that the united states is withdrawing, that we're less willing to contribute to peace and stability because if you believe as i do that weakness is provocative, that it is strength that preserves the peace, then a weakness causes people to think about doing things they wouldn't even think about doing if they saw the united states behaving in a way that suggested we were not withdrawing but that we were there, around, capable, not the policeman for the world, not the nation builder for other countries, but the country that was there and willing to contribute to peace and stability. the few things i will touch on as mallory said, i am going to
talk a bit about the age of terrorism, the iraq war, the freedom agenda that's been discussed, the challenges of fighting a war, the first war in history in the information age, and lawfare, and also a few comments about the inadequacy of our institutions, our domestic institutions as well as our international institutions. first, the age of terrorism. my first experience with that was when president reagan asked me to be middle east envoy after 241 marines and navy corpsmen were killed in beruit at the airport, and you will recall a truck loaded with explosives drove into the barracks where the marines and the navy corpsmen were billeted and blew it up, and we put some forces in along with two or three other countries and things were not going well, and i got a call from george schultz and president reagan asking me to
leave the company i was running, a pharmaceutical company at the time, and leave that and help out, so i did. and it was a new experience for me who kind of served in the pentagon during the cold war and here was something that was notably different than the cold war. it was terrorism. i remember at that time people were writing books and giving lectures about the end of history if you remember that, the theory was that communism was kind of behind us and i ended up speaking to the u.s. army association and talking about terrorism, and i said to them, look, as lenin wrote, back in october of 1984, 17 years before september 11, 2001, and i said first as lenin wrote with characteristic terseness the
purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. it is not to kill people, it is to terrorize and alter their behavior. it's a technique. terrorism is growing, i said, in the 30 days ending last week, 17 years before 2001, in the 30 days ending last week it is estimated that there were 37 terrorist attacks by 13 different organizations against the property of citizens of 20 different countries. this is 1984. i pointed out that terrorism is not the random work of isolated mad men. rather, it is state sponsored by nations using it as a central element of their foreign policy. i went on to say that terrorism works. my point was that a single attack by a small, weak element, not even a nation, maybe an entity of some kind, a network, a terrorist attack by a small,
weak nation, or entity, by influencing public opinion and morale can alter the behavior of great nations and force tribute from wealthy nations. unchecked, state sponsored terrorism is adversely changing the balance of power in our world. i went on and i said that while security is important, terrorists can attack any time, any place, using any technique, and it is physically impossible to defend at every moment of the day or night against every conceivable technique, and that being the case, i went on to say that terrorism is a form of warfare, and it has to be treated as such. we can't think that we can defend against it. i watched what happened in beruit. truck goes into the barracks.
kills 241. so the next day they put revestments around the buildings, concrete things around. so what do they do? terrorists started lobbing rocket propelled grenades over, so the next thing they did was the u.s. embassy on the core nation beruit hung a wire mesh over it to bounce the rocket propelled grenades off. sounds logical. for every offense there is a defense. for every defense there is an offense. so what did they do? the next thing they did is started hitting soft targets, people going to and from work. the point is there isn't any way
to simply defend. that causes anyone with an ounce of sense to say that must you must going on offense. the only way you can deal with that problem is not to treat it like a criminal act where once it happens you're going to capture the person and then put him in jail or punish him or do it him in absentia because you can't find him, he is gone, and in any event that is the lessons i came away with back in 1984. the election took place in 2000. shortly before that governor bush came and spoke at the citadel and talked about the future and the need to bring the military and armed forces into the united states and out of the industrial age and into information age. and then came 9/11, a day that
cast a shadow over the entire bush administration. the attack on the seat of economic power in new york, the attack on the seat of military power in the pentagon, and except for the courage of the passengers on the flight that was brought down in shanksville, pennsylvania, undoubtedly an aattack on the seated political powery, the white house, the congress, the capitol, and it was a day none of us will ever forget. the president of the united states properly recognized that the purpose of terrorism was to terrorize and alter our behavior
and cause us to change the way we live, and he did something, made a decision, that was notably different from our country's behavior through different administrations of both political parties and the preceding period, and decided that they had to go on the offense and use the phrase that was cited earlier that given the lethality of weapons in this decade, after 2001, and the risk it could be not 3,000 people, but 300,000, caused him to conclude that he had to declare a war on that and do everything conceivable not to defend only but to reach out and make everything that terrorists do
harder, make it harder for them to move around between countries, harder to talk on the phone, harder to get money. harder to raise funds through the financial americas. harder to find a country that would be willing to house them and be hospitable to their planning and training and launching of attacks on free people. in my view it was the right decision. he was criticized for it because it was different. that's understandable. he put in place a structure over a period of a year or two, a structure that was designed to deal with a notably different
set of problems than conventional war and the kinds of problems we basically faced in earlier periods. it is hard for people to adjust to that, to understand different approaches, but it was a distinctly different approach. at the time i should add i think it was johns hopkins university had a group of people come in, mostly from the previous administrations, the clinton administration, the herbert walker bush administration, and